What is Hyperglycemia, Symptoms, Treatment and Consequences


What is Hyperglycemia

Hyperglycemia is a medical term designated for the high rate of glucose (sugar) in the blood and usually affects people who suffer from diabetes , both type 1 and type 2. The condition is due to the fact that the body cannot remove this rate of blood glucose and turn it into energy, due to the lack of insulin in it. In addition, it has a slow development, that is, it lasts for several days.

The disease can be caused by several factors not always linked to diabetes and needs treatment so that it can prevent the development of several complications that may appear, such as defects in blood vessels, organs and nerves.

How to identify a hyperglycemia crisis?

The blood sugar level can be easily checked by monitoring it using the glucose test. The normal rate is up to 110 mg / dL, so when you go over that, consider hyperglycemia.


There are two types of hyperglycemia:

Fasting hyperglycemia

It happens when your blood sugar is higher than 130 mg / dL (milligrams per deciliter), a standard measure of an organism that does not receive food and drink for an 8-hour period.

Post-meal hyperglycemia

After two hours of the meal, your blood sugar should be at most 180 mg / dL. If it is above that, a case of hyperglycemia may be occurring. It is important to note that non-diabetic people have a post-meal glucose rate in the range of 140 mg / dL.


Hyperglycemia occurs when there is too little insulin in a person’s body or when he is unable to use it properly. This high rate of glucose in the blood is due, in most cases, to the fact that the person is diabetic, since his body does not have enough insulin to break down the glucose molecules and transform them into energy for the same.

The condition is not always due to this cause, but to three other factors: the triggers for hyperglycemia, certain diseases or, even, the use of some medications. Check below what characterizes each one of them.


Triggers for hyperglycemia

Some situations can suddenly raise your blood glucose level. Are they:

  • Emotional stress;
  • Change of medication;
  • Wrong or insufficient dose of insulin;
  • Change of diet or overeating;
  • High intake of foods that contain carbohydrates, that is, foods with simple sugars or that turn into simple sugars;
  • Do not exercise regularly;
  • Some type of illness, such as a cold;
  • Being injured or recovering from surgery.


Some medical conditions may be responsible for the condition of hyperglycemia, they are:

  • Pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas);
  • Pancreatic cancer;
  • Hyperthyroidism;
  • Cushing’s syndrome;
  • Unusual tumors that secrete hormones, such as glucagonoma, pheochromocytoma or growth hormone secretors;
  • Severe stress on the body, caused by heart attack, stroke, trauma or serious illness.


The use of some medications may increase the risk of hyperglycemia:

  • Corticosteroids;
  • Octreotida;
  • Beta-blockers;
  • Epinephrine;
  • Thiazide diuretics;
  • Niacin;
  • Pentamidina;
  • Protease inhibitors;
  • L-asparaginase;
  • Antipsychotics, such as olanzapine and duloxetine;
  • Acute administration of stimulants, such as amphetamine.

Hyperglycemia Symptoms

The symptoms of hyperglycemia can be divided into early and late. Understand better:

Early symptoms

Recognizing the early symptoms of the disease means that it is treated as soon as possible. These symptoms are:

  • Frequent urination;
  • Excessive thirst;
  • Blurry vision;
  • Fatigue;
  • Headache.

Late symptoms

When hyperglycemia is not treated immediately, it can generate toxic acids (ketones) in your blood and urine (ketoacidosis). Among the symptoms of this condition are:

  • Breath with bad fruit smell;
  • Weight loss (with the lack of insulin, the body begins to spend the fat already stored in the body and not that of the ingested sugars);
  • Nausea and vomiting;
  • Short breath;
  • Dry mouth;
  • Tiredness;
  • Confusion;
  • Coma;
  • Abdominal pain.

What to do when faced with hyperglycemia?

The measures to be taken can be twofold and will depend on whether or not you are diabetic. Look:

If you are not diabetic

If you have a glucose meter at home, do the self-check. However, if you do not have it, but have symptoms such as increased appetite, frequent urination, dry mouth and a lot of thirst, seek medical attention immediately.

For consultation, take the following information with you:

  • Eating habits (especially when related to carbohydrate intake);
  • Name and time of ingestion of medications and / or supplements;
  • Possible stressful situations;
  • Amount of water ingested in the day;
  • Number of visits to the bathroom.

If you are diabetic

If you have previously been diagnosed with diabetes, ideally, your glucose should be checked at least three times a day. If your blood glucose is above the recommended level, pay a visit to the doctor and see with him what can be done to prevent similar conditions in the future.


There are different types of blood tests that can be ordered by a general practitioner or endocrinologist to check whether or not you have hyperglycemia. See below what they are:

Random blood glucose

This test aims to measure the level of glucose present in the blood at a given point in time. The value normally varies between 70 and 125 mg / dL.

Fasting blood glucose

Normal blood glucose levels in that period before eating or drinking anything since the night before are less than 100 mg / dL. Above that, other health conditions may be at stake:

  • Between 100 and 125 mg / dL: pre-diabetes;
  • Above 126 mg / dL: diabetes.

Glucose tolerance test

Generally used to diagnose gestational diabetes , this test measures the blood glucose level at certain points in time, after the patient has ingested a certain amount of sugar.

Glicohemoglobina A1c

This test measures the glucose level attached directly to the red blood cells. From there, you can check your blood sugar levels in the last 2 to 3 months.

Treatment for Hyperglycemia

Since hyperglycemia is often linked to diabetes, talking to your doctor about ways to control your blood sugar is critical. Among the suggestions he can give you are:

Physical exercises

Exercising regularly is a very effective way to control your blood glucose level. However, if you have a picture of ketoacidosis (excess ketones that appear in the urine or blood, due to insufficient insulin), do not exercise, as the activity can further elevate the glucose in your body.

Taking medication correctly

If you have hyperglycemia on a recurring basis, your doctor may readjust the dosage or the time it should be taken.

Follow your diet

Diabetic people need a specific diet, where eating less and avoiding sugary drinks helps control glucose and a lot. If you have difficulty following this diet, ask your doctor or, if you prefer, a nutritionist for help.

Check the blood glucose level

Keeping an eye on your glucose level is very important. For this, you can use home appliances, not having to go to the doctor for the evaluation. The check is even more important when you are sick or suspicious of a picture of hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia.

Adjust your insulin dose

An adjustment to the insulin dose or the use of a short-acting insulin supplement can help control hyperglycemia. Talk to your doctor about these options.


NEVER self-medicate or stop using a medication without first consulting a doctor. Only he will be able to tell which medication, dosage and duration of treatment is the most suitable for his specific case. The information contained on this site is only intended to inform, not in any way intended to replace the guidance of a specialist or serve as a recommendation for any type of treatment. Always follow the instructions on the package insert and, if symptoms persist, seek medical or pharmaceutical advice.

Complications and consequences of hyperglycemia

Complications of hyperglycemia can be classified into two groups: emergency and long-term. Find out what each one is:

Emergency complications

When your blood glucose level is too high or persists for a long period of time, two emergency complications can arise:

  • Ketoacidosis: A condition that develops because of excess ketones that appear in your blood or urine, caused by a lack of enough insulin in the body to break down glucose molecules and turn them into energy. Ketoacidosis can lead to a diabetic coma, if left untreated, even leading to death.
  • Hyperosmolar hyperglycemic syndrome: This condition is characterized by the presence of insulin in the body, but it does not work properly, which causes blood glucose levels to exceed 600 mg / dL. Thus, glucose is eliminated through the urine, causing an increase in the frequency of urination. If not treated immediately, hyperglycemic hyperosmolar syndrome can be life-threatening and coma.

Long-term complications

If left untreated, hyperglycemia can cause several complications over time:

  • Cardiovascular disease;
  • Neuropathy (nerve damage);
  • Nephropathy (kidney damage) or kidney failure;
  • Retinopathy (damage to blood vessels in the retina), which can cause blindness;
  • Waterfall;
  • Foot problem, caused by damaged nerves or insufficient blood flow, and which may need amputation when more severe;
  • Bone and joint problems;
  • Skin problems, such as bacterial, fungal infections and non-healing wounds;
  • Candidiasis, due to the fact that the fungus responsible feeds on glucose stored in the cell wall of diabetic patients, mainly in the genitals;
  • Teeth problems and gum infections.


As there is no specific medication for the control of hyperglycemia, in addition to insulin, the forms of treatment of the condition also become those of prevention. Remember:

  • Follow an appropriate diet;
  • Practice physical exercises on a regular basis;
  • Take medications at the right times;
  • Monitor the blood glucose rate;
  • Report unusual illnesses and stresses to the doctor;
  • List the medications ingested, including those that do not need a prescription.

Hyperglycemia is not synonymous with concern, as long as you know how to properly control your blood glucose level and, when you notice that something is strange, consult a doctor you trust. Share the text with your friends and acquaintances, the more people who have access to it, the better!